MATTHEWS – Before Butler played South Meck in a non-conference basketball game on Nov. 27, Bulldog senior guard Raquan Brown was presented a basketball commemorating the guard’s achievement of scoring 1,000 career points.
Brown accomplished that goal during Butler’s Class 4A tournament loss in the Elite 8 last season and the game against South Meck was the Bulldogs’ first home game since then.
And Brown has picked up where he left off last season.
He scored a game-high 22 points and keyed a late run to help push the Butler (2-0) to a 60-43 win against the Sabres. Brown scored 24 points in Butler’s 79-52 season-opening victory against Charlotte Catholic on Nov. 24 and he now has 1,061 career points for the Bulldogs.
South Meck cut the Butler lead to 32-29 with just over two minutes left in the third period, but the Bulldogs answered with a punishing 16-3 run for a 48-32 lead at the midway point of the fourth period. Brown scored eight points during the pivotal run, including making three-straight layups.
“We got some transition baskets,” Butler coach Myron Lowery said. “Raquan is a bucket-getter. When we need a bucket, he is going to get you a bucket.”
Brown said the Bulldogs’ play on the defensive end of the court fueled the late run that allowed them to pull away for the easy win.
“I just wanted to do anything to get the win,” Brown said. “We were able to make some shots and we got on a little run.”
Senior Rajuan Connor was also in double figures against South Meck with 13 points. Connor scored a career-high 29 points in the Bulldogs’ win against Catholic after making 12-of-16 shots from the field and added six rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Connor keeps getting better every day,” Lowery said. “He is super athletic. He got a monster dunk after a miss and then he pulls up and hits a three. He can do it all and he protects the rim for us. He is very valuable for us.”
Sophomores Jordan McPhatter and Moses Payne had seven points each for the Bulldogs. McPhatter tied the school’s single-game assist record with 11 in the win against Catholic and didn’t have a turnover in that game.
“He is very smart and he sees a lot of passing lanes,” Lowery said. “He hasn’t shot it real well, but he will. He was big for us again, and he is a real smart player.”
Brown has signed to play basketball at the University of New Orleans, where he will join former Bulldog’ teammate Gerrale Gates, who is a freshman for the Privateers.
“It’s an exciting for our basketball family with the addition of Raquan,” New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger said. “He will bring so much to our team as a skilled guard. Having been a high school teammate of Gerrale, we had the opportunity to watch Raquan play at a high level. He’s already surpassed 1,000 points entering his senior season. Raquan has the ability to shoot at a high rate and finish, while also running the team from the point guard position.”
Gates has started all five games for New Orleans (3-2), and he is averaging eight points and 6.2 rebounds a game. Slessinger is also expecting big things from Brown next season.
“Raquan has tremendous coaching and direction,” Slessinger said. “We know he will be prepared to compete at the college level athletically and academically coming from Butler and Coach Lowrey. Gerrale showed he was prepared fundamentally, skill wise and with a strong work ethic.”
Brown said now that the recruiting process is done, he can focus on helping Butler make a deep run at the state tournament.
“Signing with New Orleans was a blessing from God,” Brown said. “I put in the work, I kept praying and it happened. Since I signed, I’m just focused on playing great every game.”
And Brown said he is looking forward to being teammates with Gates next season.
“Gerrale was my main man here, and next year we are going to go to work,” he said.